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The News in Brief

Wednesday, December 17
Russian delegation to arrive in Georgia on December 24

Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II announced yesterday that a Russian delegation led by President Medvedev’s adviser will arrive in Georgia on December 24 to take part in an international conference.

This announcement was made at the session of scientists the Patriarch attended at the Scientific Academy. According to him he and the Russian President have agreed on some important issues.

“This problem should be treated very carefully and with well-planned diplomacy. I think our Government will continue this course and we will see positive results, “ Ilia II has stated. (The Messenger)

UK to assist in restoring Borjomi National Park

The United Kingdom is ready to render assistance to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Georgia in restoring the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. This issue was discussed at a meeting between Minister of Environment Giorgi Khachidze andAmbassador of the United Kingdom to Georgia Denis Keefe, Black Sea Press was informed at the Ministry’s Press Service.

“The parties discussed future cooperation on the restoration of the National Park which was damaged during the events in August,”, a statement read. During the meeting the Ambassador also expressed readiness on behalf of his country to assist in deepening cooperation in the sphere of nature protection, namely, in the imposition of British standards of environmental protection inspection.

The Georgian Government and the local population tried to extinguish the fire in Borjomi for 23 days. According to a statement from official Tbilisi, the fire broke out after Russian pilots dropped some firecrackers into certain parts of the National Park. It was practically impossible to struggle against the fire in these impassible areas, as heat and wind promoted the spread of the fire.

The Russian side did not permit Georgia to use helicopters to extinguish the fire, and as a result approximately 1,000 ha of unique forest were liquidated, the Ministry said. (Black Sea Press)

Government’s election legislation initiative a first step towards snap elections – Kukava

The new initiative of the Georgian authorities to set up a working group to elaborate amendments to the election code is the first step towards conducting early Presidential and Parliamentary elections, Kakha Kukava, Secretary-General of the Conservative Party of Georgia stated at a news conference on December 15.

“We hail the initiative of introducing amendments to the election code. This is the first serious success of the democratic forces of Georgia, achieved due to international support. We remember what the Government’s position was with regard to elections just a week ago and how President Saakashvili excluded any kind of reforms in that direction. The first step has been taken for preparing and holding democratic elections,” Kakha Kukava said, expressing gratitude to Western partners for their assistance in this process.

Chairman of the Georgian Parliament Davit Bakradze proposed on Monday to set up a group to work on the elaboration of amendments to the election legislation of Georgia with representatives of the Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary opposition, international and non-Governmental organizations. Davit Bakradze called on all political forces to become actively engaged in the amendment process.

Kakha Kukava says that the Conservative Party has been holding consultations with all non-Governmental organizations and observer missions in Georgia for the last few weeks. As a result, a package of 39 amendment-related recommendations has been prepared, focusing on parity when appointing the election administration and establishing international arbitration.

“Parity should be taken into account by all levels of the election administration, since the Commission chaired by Levan Tarkhnishvili demonstrated its inefficiency during the Presidential and Parliamentary elections. The second most important issue is the establishment of special international arbitration, which will consider election-related disputes. For this purpose, international organizations such as OSCE, CE, EU, must be invited to select qualified arbiters who will render final judgments on such disputes,” Kukava said.

The Conservative leader said that the 39 recommendations would be passed to international mediators engaged in talks. Kukava said that it would be possible to achieve the holding of early elections only through international organizations putting pressure on the authorities. “Without international support and pressure on the Georgian authorities, the National Movement would not have been ready to do anything about many issues, including this one. However, thanks to the goodwill of international organizations, work has been begun in this direction. Of course, there is much to be done to get rid of the absurd idea that the nearest elections will be held in 2010,” Kukava said. He supposes that “international organizations are providing recommendations to the Georgian authorities because elections are to be held in the near future.”

Kukava added that consultations with various political forces will begin soon in order to find a common position on the aforesaid issue, which would be expressed in the form of a memorandum. Kakha Kukava expressed the hope that a joint memorandum will be formalized by the end of December. (Black Sea Press)